In the last post we went over the importance of starting with the END in mind (read: we went over the WHY).
Now, we’re going to go over the HOW.

As you may know by now; I like to start backwards. Reverse engineering is the best the way to create a plan because you know the ultimate destination and now you just need to plug in the missing info. Most Swag campaigns start off with a date. You may need the Swag for a company outing, maybe it’s a big conference your sponsoring, or it could be to re-stock your supplies. Whatever it is, step 1 is to circle a date on your calendar.

Step 1: Delivery Date
In the business, we call it “In Hands Date”. You’re trusted Swag advisor may have asked you in the past (or it might have been me)… “When’s your in hands date?”
We really should be saying deliver date because “in hands date” doesn’t make any sense and it’s industry jargon. So, let’s call it your delivery date. Circle on your calendar the day you want your swag. Most Swag projects are rushes and we aren’t able to afford the luxury of circling a date a few days before the event actually starts. But since you’re reading this, you realize the importance your Swag plays in your event and you’re likely preparing ahead. SO, let’s aim for a whole week prior to when you actually need the Swag.

Targeting a delivery date a week prior to the day of your event does several things, but most of all it’s a security blanket. You may be wanting it early, because you need to divide it up into several more boxes, maybe you don’t trust the shipping services, or maybe it just helps you sleep better at night.

Step 2: Brand-Storming
At ValueBP, the parent company to WhatUp Silicon Valley, we like to call brainstorming sessions brand-storming. It’s a mindset thing; we always want to be thinking about your brand. This is the time to dive deep into your objectives and goals so that we (as your Swag advisors) can start presenting some Swag to produce results.

This is done in a variety of ways. Usually it starts with budgeting. If you don’t have or know what your budget is, we have a simple formula to help you out.

Option 1: How much total do you have to spend?
example: $5k … Great, how many units do you want for that 5k? Say, you respond saying 500, then it’s a simple formula that lets us know you have a budget of $10 per unit.

Option 2: How many units do you want?
example: 500 units … Great, how much would you want to spend per unit? Say, you respond saying $10 per unit, then again a very simple formula let’s us know you have a total budget of $5k.

In either example, we get the same answer. It’s just a different way of looking at it. Often times we see our clients get stuck with budgeting and starting with these simple questions can help you from the get go.

We’ll cover advanced budgeting and the 3-tier approach in the next blog post, where we can stretch this budget to get 3 different kinds of items. For now, let’s move on to step 3…

Step 3: Estimates & Sales Orders
Realize that with so many different products under one product category, choosing the right item for you can take time. Even once you choose an item, then you’ll have to choose a decoration method which can (and will take time).
For example, say you wanted one of those trendy S’well, Yeti, Hydroflask type bottles. Well, do you want the name brand or just something similar that can hold your beverage cold for 24 hours and hot for 10 hours? Chances are you just want something similar. It’s pretty easy to identify that you want a S’well, Yeti or Hydroflask as each is extremely different in form and function then the next (personally, I like the Hydroflask style best because the carabiner type lid makes it easiest to hold while on the go).
Well, after that some Swag advisors might show you one to choose from. AND that one option might come in colors white, blue or black. Well, you need it in red. Rather, you want it in red. A trusted Swag advisor will show you at least 3 options at 3 different price points all a bit different in style from the next to speed up the process. Regardless, you’ll still want to choose the one that works best for you. Well, what about your art?

Time is ticking… Do you want a screen printed one color logo or a full color digitally printed imprint? This is exactly why we build in a buffer. Your Swag advisor may be Johnny on the Spot with getting you options in a timely manner, but you still have other things to do throughout the day and other meetings to take … and maybe need to check with your team to get them to weigh in.

Point is, make time for this stage.

Step 4: Proof & Production
If the right conversations were taking place during Step 3, then Step 4 is simply a formality and a breeze. If you have time to get a proof prior to production, that’s the way to go. Often times, we’ll see our clients making revisions at the proof stage. The important thing to note is that once a proof is approved no changes can be made. At the production stage, the screens are being made, the time to actually bring your products to life is now – sit back and relax your precious Swag is coming soon!

Step 5: Delivery
The time has come! Your Swag has been shipped off and you’re about to receive it. When that tracking hits your inbox, it reminds you of seeing the “big brown truck” (UPS) rolling up to your house as a kid when waiting for your Christmas presents to arrive.

So, that’s it. It may sound silly to have these 5 steps to creating great Swag but the point is that if you begin with the END in mind, you will

  • Stress less (have deadlines in place so you won’t be in a rush)
  • Purposeful Swag (have spent dedicated time to get Swag that represents your brand and helps you achieve your goals)

If you’re ready to take action and start a project, email me! (
Some of our work is featured on our website here.

Swag On,